Flying taxi maker Wisk showed off the fifth generation of its self-flying all-electric aircraft at the Farnborough Airshow 2022 and said the next generation would be ready in the fall.
The company, which is backed by Boeing, is hoping to be one of the first to get an autonomous electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle (eVTOL) certified by US authorities, although admits it will be a challenge.
Wisk’s eVTOL has six hover fans on each wing for the vertical takeoff and landing, while an additional propeller at the rear is used for cruise flight.
“We’ve been flying it completely autonomously since 2017,” explained aircraft technician Susan Hopkins to AeroTime at the Farnborough Airshow. The bright yellow testbed aircraft has done over 400 flights, she said.
“In late autumn, we’re coming out with the sixth generation of our aircraft,” Hopkins revealed. “It will be substantially bigger – it will have four seats and space for baggage.”
Credit: AeroTime Team
Once through the flight test phase, Wisk will be pushing for certification with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Unlike other eVTOL companies, which are starting with piloted systems, Wisk has not set a definite time frame for certification.
“We can get ourselves through our testing, and have a timeline in mind for that. But then we have no idea how long this is going to take with the FAA,” Hopkins said.
David Boulter, acting associate administrator for Aviation Safety at the FAA, said during a panel at the Airshow that the FAA wanted to take its time to get regulation right on eVTOLs.
“We’re the first people that are flying autonomously. And we’re the first that are going to go through the process with the FAA to get it certified. You want them to do their due diligence on this,” Hopkins said.
She said that with the industry being so small and in its infancy, if something goes wrong it has the potential to affect everyone. “We all are responsible for shaping and creating our market and doing a good job. People don’t forget in a hurry. So we need to know that we can safely transport people.”